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Photograph - The Great Gate, from the Village, Fuuttehpore Sikri
  • The Great Gate, from the Village, Fuuttehpore Sikri
    Bourne, Samuel, born 1834 - died 1912
  • Enlarge image

The Great Gate, from the Village, Fuuttehpore Sikri

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    India (photographed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1865 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bourne, Samuel, born 1834 - died 1912 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print from a wet collodian negative

  • Museum number:

    53259, 53259A

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This photograph shows the monumental gateway, known as the Buland Darwaza, of the Jami Masjid (mosque). The mosque is the principle building at Fatehpur Sikri. The city, near Agra, north-west India, was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar (ruled 1556-1605). According to an inscription in the building, construction of the mosque was completed between 1571-1572.

The building is made of local red sandstone. It stands 40 metres high on a set of steps which are a further 12 metres in height. This photograph also shows part of the outer walls, which measure 33.6 metres by 165 metres. The straw roofs in the foreground could be for residential houses or for stables.

The British photographer Samuel Bourne lived and worked in India between 1862 and 1869. During this time he toured the Himalayas and travelled through the subcontinent, photographing its landscape, architecture and historical sites. He set up a studio in Simla with Charles Shepherd and sold his prints sold to an eager public both in India and Britain.

Physical description

This photograph shows the monumental gateway of the Jami Masjid in Fatephur Sikri.
In the foreground are brick houses and trees.

Place of Origin

India (photographed)


ca. 1865 (photographed)


Bourne, Samuel, born 1834 - died 1912 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from a wet collodian negative

Marks and inscriptions

Signature and negative number in bottom centre.


Length: 28.4 cm photograph, Height: 23 cm photograph, Length: 32.8 cm mount, Height: 26.5 cm mount

Object history note

This photograph was initially part of the photographic collection held in the National Art Library. The markings on the mount are an indication of the history of the object, its movement through the museum and the way it is categorised.
This window mount is similar to others in the collection. At one point it would also have had a label with red edging indicating the title of the photograph. There is evidence of this being torn off the mount. This type of label and mount suggests inclusion in an exhibition, possibly the Paris exhibition of 1867 or the subsequent South Kensington exhibition for which no catalogue has been found.

Historical significance: This monumental gateway dominates the southern side of the Jami Masjid. It is 40 meters high and stands on a set of steps which are a further 12 meters in height. The masjid is made of red sandstone which is local to the area. The design of the gateway cleverly uses buff coloured sandstone alongside the red sandstone to create depth and a visually stimulating façade. Surrounding the doorway are three cartouches carved on buff sandstone which contain verses from the Quran in Naksh script.

The gateway, which faces Gujarat, was built to celebrate the emperor Akbar’s conquest of that region in June 1573 and probably replaced a smaller entrance built slightly earlier. According to a reference in contemporary literature it is likely that the gate was completed in 1576. This imposing structure is visible for miles around and reflects the imperial status of its creator.

The masjid occupies the highest point on the ridge on which the city of Fatehpur Sikri has been built. It took five years to construct and according to an inscription was completed by 1571-2

This photograph shows the imposing nature of the Buland Darwaza as seen from the residential areas beyond the city walls. In the foreground are residential houses made of brick, with clusters of trees nearby. See photograph no 53,261 for a more distant view of the gate. Again it is the sheer height/scale of the gateway which is most notable.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Rizve, S.A & Flynn, V.N, Fathpur Sikri, 1975
Asher, C, B, Architecture of Mughal India, The New Cambridhe History of India, , CUP, 1992
Archaeological Survey of India, Fatehpur Sikri, New Delhi, 2002
Alfieri, B.M, Islamic Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, London 2000,


Wet collodion process


Photographs; Architecture


South & South East Asia Collection

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